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General questionsEdit

What is the Michigan Wiki?Edit

The Michigan Wiki is a free content, freely editable online encyclopedia about everything Michigan, including the government, people, places and even behind-the-scenes details such as defunct proposals, historical documents and historic election results.

Who owns the Michigan Wiki?Edit

The Michigan Wiki is hosted by Wikia, a free wiki hosting service operated by Wikia, Inc., a for-profit organization founded by Jimmy Wales and Angela Beesley. Wikia receives all profit from the Google AdSense advertisements on this site. Wikia is responsible for technical issues with the site; it also sometimes provides legal advice and is our legal Designated Agent.
However, the Michigan Wiki content, licensed under the GFDL, is not "owned" by anyone in the traditional sense. Anyone can reuse it elsewhere or even download the database dump and make a mirror or "fork" (not that we would be very excited in the latter case, though).

When and why was the Michigan Wiki created?Edit

The Michigan Wiki was created originally by R.T. Olson in 2005 as a project that would provide a more complete coverage of Michigan than Wikipedia with regard to details and information unique to this state. A smaller wiki is also easier to manage, customize and verify when it comes to factual accuracy.
A few of our first articles were forked from the English Wikipedia, although we hope that these articles will be completely rewritten to the point that almost no Wikipedia material remains. See Michification for more details.

Who is responsible for the Michigan wiki content?Edit

You are! In fact, you can edit this very FAQ! However, note that since the Michigan Wiki is an unofficial, community-driven project, edited by hundreds of people unfamiliar with each other, we cannot possibly guarantee (and explicitly disclaim) any degree of accuracy and validity, although we do strive for both accuracy and verifiability — this means that everyone should be able to verify the facts mentioned in every article. This is why all articles are encouraged to have lists of sources and references.
Additionally, you can find who contributed to a particular article by looking at its edit history.

What keeps the Michigan Wiki from being destroyed?Edit

Every Michigan Wiki article contains an edit history (accessible from the "history" tab by default), which records all edits to the article since it was created. In case someone makes a bad edit (intentionally or not) by vandalizing the article or inserting false information, anyone can revert (restore) the article to an earlier, better revision.

How can I contact the project?Edit

The Information Center is the general place to ask questions about the Michigan Wiki or give feedback. You can also try the Legislature for suggestions regarding policy, guidelines, or other things related to the wiki. Often, a user is available on the IRC channel. When present, feel free to contact users there.

Legal questionsEdit

Is the Michigan Wiki copyrighted?Edit

Yes, all contributions are copyrighted by the people who made them. This means that if you edit an article, you hold copyright for the edits you made, but not for edits made by other people contributing to the same article.
The GNU Free Documentation License, which we use, leverages the legal institute of copyright to ensure that everyone will have the right to freely access, modify and redistribute licensed content, no matter what. Therefore, do not contribute if you do not want your edits to be in turn mercilessly edited by others.

Can I use the Michigan Wiki content on my site/elsewhere?Edit

Yes! However, this only applies to the text, licensed under the GFDL. Images vary in status as far as reproduction. Using images for other purposes or in countries where fair use conditions do not apply may be illegal. Some images, however, are in the public domain and can be freely reused.
If you use Michigan Wiki articles elsewhere, all you are legally required to do (by the license) is to add a copyright notice saying that the article is copyrighted and licensed under the GFDL, and a link to the original article. You can freely modify and redistribute the material, provided that you license your modifications under the GFDL as well. You cannot license it on other conditions or put it in the public domain, nor can you claim copyright for content you did not write yourself (everyone only holds copyright to the contributions they themselves made).

Can I use Michigan Wiki content on another wiki?Edit

Yes, if the said wiki is itself licensed under the GFDL. This includes all of Wikia (with the exception of Memory Alpha and Uncyclopedia, which are sister projects licensed under Creative Commons licenses) and most Wikimedia Foundation projects, including Wikipedia. In this case, the aforementioned copyright notice goes to the talk page of the said article; the restrictions still apply.

Can I use content from other sites on the Michigan Wiki?Edit

No. By default, every work is copyrighted and the author holds exclusive rights to it, unless they explicitly release all or some of them. You can insert GFDL or public domain text into articles verbatim, but not anything else. We care about copyright violations so much that we have a special page dedicated to reporting and removing such violations, replacing them with original, non-violating content.

Technical questionsEdit

What wiki software does the Michigan Wiki use?Edit

The Michigan Wiki (and the rest of Wikia) uses MediaWiki, the same software as Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects. Wikia also uses some third-party extensions, which are available to all hosted wikis. The exact details can be found at Special:Version.

Where should I report technical issues?Edit

If they are indeed technical (like the site being down, or weird error messages) and not something within the users control (like templates), you can report them to the Wikia support channel on IRC, #wikia. For instructions, see Wikia:IRC.

Do I have to register?Edit

While registration is optional, it is strongly recommended. You can view and edit pages as an anonymous user, but registration hides your IP address and gives you the ability to upload files, move (rename) pages, and edit so-called semi-protected pages (after a few days).
Most importantly, registration gives you an identity and makes you a full-fledged member of the Wikia community. After you register and make your first edit, another user will usually greet you on your talk page and give links to some useful information pages. Registration is the first step in earning reputation and respect.

What are namespaces?Edit

Namespaces are large "storages" that group pages according to their function. Placing a page in a namespace causes the MediaWiki software to treat it in a special way. For example, this page is in the Michigan namespace, according to its prefix (Michigan:FAQ). Every namespace except Special (whose pages are generated by scripts on the fly, rather than being stored in the database) has an appropriate talk namespace, unless it is itself a talk namespace. For example, the talk page for the article named Michigan (located in the default namespace, without any prefix) resides at Talk:Michigan.
Namespace Talk namespace Function
(default; no prefix) Talk: Articles: what we produce, and what a casual reader expects from an encyclopedia
Special: (N/A) Special pages: pages whose content is controlled by scripts, like statistics generated on the fly and control panels allowing users to perform certain actions like moving pages and editing preferences
User: User talk: User pages, where users can post their personal information if they so desire
Michigan: Michigan talk: Project pages: policies, guidelines and processes
Image: Image talk: Files (mostly images, but occasionally audio and video files) used on other pages
MediaWiki: MediaWiki talk: Messages and scripts providing customizable look and feel, only editable by administrators
Template: Template talk: Templates: short, parameterized messages that can be included (transcluded) on other pages to avoid repetition (see Category:Templates)
Help: Help talk: Pages providing help for new users
Category: Category talk: Categories: groups of articles, images, templates or project pages by their content
Forum: Forum talk: Forum pages, controlled by the forum extension (this includes the Legislature)

Only the Wikia staff can add or remove namespaces or special pages. Neither regular users nor administrators can do that. The forum namespace is the only custom namespace so far.

Editing questionsEdit

See also Wikia: Editing

What is the difference between red, blue and light blue links?Edit

Blue links point to existing pages (like Main Page), red links point to nonexistent pages (like MediaWiki:Nonexistent), and light blue links are either external or interwiki links: in short, links that are supposed to point outside the Michigan Wiki.

Where can I discuss pages?Edit

Each page has a built-in discussion (talk) page, which can be accessed via the "discussion" tab. While discussing articles, please limit your posts to the article content, not the article subject. For example, the Talk:Macomb County page should not be used to find out who thinks that Macomb County should change their county government, but discussions whether (and how) the article could be expanded, whether a certain image should be replaced or a section reworded are perfectly acceptable. For discussions about Michigan, refer to other online discussion boards.

Somebody reverted my edits, what should I do?Edit

Generally, not revert to your version in turn. This can start a revert war (also known as edit war), which is seen as disruptive because it prevents other contributors from improving the same article. Instead, question yourself whether the revert was justified, look at the edit history for the reason given, and try to settle the case on the talk page.

What is a minor edit?Edit

A minor edit is an edit that it is so non-noteworthy that users monitoring the article can usually skip it. Examples are spelling and grammar corrections, corrections of formatting and template usage. Addition and omission of content, as well as factual corrections, are not minor edits and should not be marked as such.
If you accidentally marked a non-minor edit as a minor one, make a dummy edit (an edit that affects the source wikitext but not the output, like changing one space to two or vice versa), mark it as non-minor, and explain the problem.

What is a semi-protected page?Edit

Semi-protected pages are pages that can only be edited by registered users that have been registered for four days or longer. It is done to prevent pages from being vandalized by anonymous or very new users. Like full protection, it is only used in extreme cases. If full protection is a last resort measure, semi-protection can be thought of a "penultimate resort".

What are considered reliable sources?Edit

The Michigan Wiki has a page dedicated to discussing reliable sources.

Community/political questionsEdit

Who defines the policies?Edit

The policies are determined by consensus: proposed new policies and changes are not approved until a decision that suits everyone or almost everyone is found. The role of a "policy forge" is largely assumed by Legislature. A discussion may start as a simple vote or even a simple suggestion or question, but usually, the end result is neither of the originally proposed options (in case of a vote), but rather some kind of fusion of different ideas. The process can be painful, but necessary.

How can I contact an administrator?Edit

Just as you would contact any other user: by leaving a message on their talk page. Alternatively, you can join IRC; at least one administrator is usually present there at any given time. IRC is best used for reporting action that must be stopped immediately, such as mass blanking or mass move vandalism.

Other questionsEdit

What are those small symbols in the upper-right corner of many articles?Edit

These are tags, and most of them are used to denote the type of topic in which a subject appears. There are two types of tags: topic tags and county tags. The first defines the topic which the article falls, such as person, location, structure, etc. The second defines the county in which something is located or which a person held a significant position. These tags have no practical meaning outside of the Michigan Wiki and should not be interpreted as a defining status or abbreviation for a government entity.

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